by Anne Maxwell
WAYNESBORO, Ga. 5/8/17: The construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is years behind schedule and billions over budget. Last month, the contractor, Westinghouse Electric, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Plant Vogtle employees hundreds of people in Burke County and the temporary contract with Westinghouse expires Friday, which means the project’s future after that is up in the air.
An attorney for Georgia Power, which is one of the main owners of Plant Vogtle, has said all options are on the table. They could totally shut down the project, or build only one of the two reactors they are currently constructing. There has also been talk of converting it to a natural gas plant, but it is not clear whether that would be economical. Or they could continue building despite even higher costs.
But no matter what happens, Georgia Power is still going to make a profit.
by Gloria Tatum
(APN) ATLANTA 4/24/17— On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, Glenn Carroll, Director of Nuclear Watch South (NWS), filed a request for an emergency public hearing with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to seek relief for ratepayers from the Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) tax on customers’ electric bills.
Georgia Power ratepayers have been paying in advance for the construction of Plant Vogtle nuclear reactor units 3 and 4 since 2009, because of the Georgia Legislature’s approval of CWIP via Senate Bill 31, which subverts the traditional ratemaking process and undermines the notion of Georgia Power shareholders taking any risk.
by Mary Landers
SAVANNAH 4/8/2017: The costs for Georgia Power’s troubled Plant Vogtle are adding up, but not for the utility or its investors.
Instead, ratepayers are already paying for the two new nuclear reactors, both of which may never produce a watt of electricity. How much have customers already dished out? For southside Savannah customer Cornelia Stumpf, the Vogtle bills already total more than $500.
by Gloria Tatum
(APN) ATLANTA 4/5/17— Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the designer and builder of the AP1000 nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina, has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy, putting the future of the nuclear power industry in jeopardy.
Clean energy advocates hope this bankruptcy will be a wooden stake in the heart of the so-called “nuclear renaissance” that finally kills it, including the incomplete new reactor units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle.
by Russell Grantham
ATLANTA 6/8/16 — Georgia Power officials were grilled by state utility regulators at a hearing Wednesday on why they think customers should pay for a preliminary study for a possible new nuclear plant near Columbus.
The Atlanta-based utility has asked the Public Service Commission to approve $175 million for the study of a Stewart County site as part of its updated 20-year power generation plan.
Those costs, which could ultimately grow to $300 million because of the way they are stretched out, would eventually be paid by Georgia Power’s customers, whether or not the company decided to build the new nuclear plant.
by Matt Kempner
ATLANTA 6/7/16 — Some really great deals are only great if someone else pays for them.
The state’s largest power company has just such a deal for us.
Georgia Power insists it’s really important and prudent to spend nearly $175 million so the company can investigate building a nuclear plant on land it owns south of Columbus in Stewart County. Executives testified that the investment is “in the best interest of its customers.”
But that certainty magically evaporates if Georgia Power has to pay for the exploration itself.
The company – a government-regulated monopoly — said last week that it would pull the plug on its review if state regulators don’t allow it to charge Georgia Power customersfor the entire cost of the exploration. Customers should pay even if a plant is never built on the site, according to the company. Those costs would be incorporated in monthly power bills eventually.
by Russell Grantham
ATLANTA 6/3/16 —At least one of Georgia’s utility regulators says he doesn’t think Georgia Power’s customers should have to foot a $175 million bill up front to study a potential site for a new nuclear plant near Columbus.
Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald told fellow members of the Public Service Commission Thursday that he plans to introduce a motion in the future that would deny the company’s request for the study funding.
McDonald said his motion wouldn’t prevent Georgia Power from going ahead with the study, but it’s “premature” to ask customers to pay for it before 2019.
by Matt Kempner
ATLANTA 4/13/16 — What do you call overruns on a project that’s more than three years delayed and at least $1.7 billion over budget?
Reasonable and prudent. At least if you are Georgia Power and you want customers to swallow every penny of the mistakes that would otherwise be the utility monopoly’s responsibility for its adventures in nuclear expansion.
“Every dollar, and every day, that has been invested has been necessary to complete these new units safely and correctly,” Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers asserted in a recent filing to state regulators.
The company uses the words “prudent” and “reasonable” a lot in the filing because that’s the legal measure of whether the extra costs can be pushed onto customers’ monthly power bills for the company’s troubled Plant Vogtle expansion.
by Russell Grantham
3/18/15 — Georgia Power has chosen a site south of Columbus where it may build a new nuclear plant sometime after 2030, according to documents filed with state regulators.
The company said it has not decided yet to build more nuclear plants in Georgia, but confirmed that it has begun preliminary studies for a possible plant on 7,000 acres that it owns next to the Chattahoochee River in northern Stewart County.
The rural county is just below Fort Benning and Columbus in west Georgia.
by Ron Hurtibise
MIAMI 2/24/16 — Florida’s two largest utility companies are the target of a lawsuit claiming a state law that authorized collection of $2 billion for construction of nuclear power facilities is unconstitutional.
The suit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by Hagens Berman, which describes itself as a “national class action and complex litigation law firm.”
The suit accuses Florida Power & Light, headquartered in Juno, and Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp., of overcharging its ratepayers.
Relying on a 2006 state law that authorized the Nuclear Cost Recovery System, the utilities turned 6.4 million ratepayers into “involuntary investors in nuclear projects, charges them interest on their own money and never returns their ‘investment,” the suit contends. “When the projects are abandoned, the utilities keep the money and collect even more.”